The conventional wisdom is that your lawn should get about 1” of water per week. When it rains, meteorologists will tell you how many inches of rainfall your area got. But what if it hasn’t rained for a while; how long should you leave a sprinkler running to get 1” of water on your lawn? Luckily it is super simple to make a DIY sprinkler gauge to figure out exactly how long to water your lawn with your specific sprinkler!
In general, most sprinklers put out 1” of water over about half an hour, but it can vary a lot depending on the type of sprinkler you have and your water pressure. To be sure you aren’t under-watering or over-watering your lawn, make a quick DIY sprinkler gauge to determine how much water your specific sprinkler puts out over time.
DIY Sprinkler Gauge
- 5 minutes (time spent doing stuff)
- 15 minutes (time spent waiting around)
- 20 minutes (total project time)
- your sprinkler (I use this sprinkler for our small front yard, and this sprinkler for our larger back yard)
- 3-5 small tin cans (tuna cans or cat food cans are perfect!)
Clean out a few tin cans to use as your sprinkler gauges. You can use any kind of container you want to; just make sure that all of them are the same size and that they have straight sides and a flat bottom so you can accurately measure the accumulated water.
Set up your sprinkler on your lawn just like you normally would, then place your empty tin cans spread out across your lawn before turning on the sprinkler. Put some cans closer to the sprinkler and some further away so that you can get a good idea of the average water output across your whole lawn.
Turn on your sprinkler and set a timer for 15 minutes. Let the sprinkler run for 15 minutes, then turn it off.
Carefully collect the cans of water (don’t spill any water!) and bring them over to somewhere flat, like a deck or a sidewalk. Measure the amount of water in each container, add all the amounts together, and divide by the number of containers you used.
Combined, there was 1.5” in my three containers, so on average that means my sprinkler puts out 1/2” of water in 15 minutes. So to get 1” of water on my lawn every week, I need to run my sprinkler for 30 minutes a week. Simple, right?!
It’s better to water your lawn really deeply 2 times a week rather than watering daily; that way the roots of your grass can grow deep and strong. Once you figure out how long to water your lawn each week, divide it by two, set your sprinkler up twice a week, and you’re good to go! For me, that’s 15 minutes twice a week, but if it’s really hot out, you can always go a little longer just to make sure your grass isn’t thirsty!
How long do you water your lawn? Have you checked your sprinkler output lately? If you’re having problems with weeds or brown patches, your lawn may need a little more water every week!
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